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A Day in the Life of…Philip Crawford

Wednesday 10th December 2014 at 1pm 0 Comments

Philip Crawford outlines his role to students from Laurel Hill Community College Lisburn Image: Philip Crawford outlines his role to students from Laurel Hill Community College Lisburn

Philip Crawford, Creative Learning Coordinator at the Lyric Theatre, tells us about the theatre’s work with young offenders, touring Shakespeare with a cast of local school children and entertaining over 600 Primary School children. All in a day’s work for the Lyric Theatre. 

THE POST: Creative Learning Coordinator, Lyric Theatre. The Lyric Theatre is core funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

THE POST HOLDER: Philip Crawford

TRACK RECORD: Philip Crawford was appointed in June 2011. He is a graduate of Queen’s University and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff.

7:00am I’m definitely not an early bird and when I waken up to Classic FM, I try to eke out another 20 or 30 minutes in bed before I get up.  I aim to get to the gym in the local hotel by 8:00am and it’s during a session there that I begin to get my head around the day ahead. I avoid listening to the news first thing in the morning – it’s usually a depressing and negative start to the day – but I catch some of BBC Breakfast while on the treadmill.

9:00am A quick dash back home for breakfast and to change and then I set off on the hour long journey to Belfast. I listen to audiobooks or podcasts on the way into work to avoid wasting time and usually ring the office en route to get a heads-up on what’s happening.

10:00am I have a meeting this morning at Hydebank Wood Young Offenders’ Centre, which is on my way to the Lyric. Discussion on how the Creative Learning department may begin to work with some of the young men as they approach the end of their time in prison. Evidence suggests that prisoners who get involved with the Arts are much less likely to re-offend and surely that’s got to be in everyone’s interest?

11:30am Arrive at the office to quickly scan emails and check the answer phone and then leave again for an appointment at St Malachy’s College in North Belfast.

12:15am Meeting with the new Principal, Paul McBride, to discuss a hugely exciting project with the Royal Shakespeare Company. In 2016, the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death will be marked by a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which will tour to 12 venues across the UK, including the Grand Opera House in Belfast. In each venue, the Mechanicals will be played by local amateur actors and Titania’s train of spirits by school children. Paul and his exuberant team of Drama teachers are as enthusiastic as I am and agree to be the ‘hub school’ for Northern Ireland. I’m thrilled!

2:00pm Lunch is a sandwich in the car as I drive back to the Lyric to greet a company from Clwyd Theatr Cymru in North Wales. Over the next week, over 600 Primary School children from Belfast will come to see a musical adaptation of Gill Lewis’ delightful book, Skyhawk, about children who track an osprey in its migration to Africa. I saw it in Wales last year and was determined to bring it to Belfast. Thanks to sponsorship from Belfast Harbour, we’ve been able to bring it to the Lyric for 13 shows. The Lyric is generously funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland (more than £1m annually) which helps support many of our outreach projects but contributions from the corporate sector is always welcome.

3:00pm I have an hour in the office and that’s a good chance to look at a play we’re working on with our student actor group. I choose scenes for a showcase in December and manage to cast it quite quickly, which is a relief. A few emails cleared from the Inbox and I take a phone call from a young actor wanting to book a coaching session before he sets off to audition for Drama School. We’ve had 17 young actors placed in major Drama Schools across the UK over the last 3 years and word’s spreading that it’s worthwhile having a chat with us at the Lyric before you go!

4:30pm My colleague, Pauline McKay, is giving a backstage tour of the theatre to 15 students from Laurel Hill Community College in Lisburn. I call down to meet them and do an impromptu Q&A on careers in the theatre. I hope my realistic and pragmatic views haven’t put them off!

6:00pm The Board of Trustees of the Lyric are meeting this evening and I’ve been asked to attend to discuss some of the projects the Creative Learning department is delivering at the moment. The Chairman kindly agrees to move my slot up the agenda so I can leave the meeting early.

6:45pm There are 20 students from Queen’s University coming in this evening for a drinks reception, prior to attending a performance of Pentecost on the Danske Bank Stage. They are on the PGCE teacher-training course and ideal vectors to carry information into the schools they’ll be visiting on teaching practice. This is the first of three encounters we have planned over the course of the academic year and it’s important to get the relationship right.

7:45pm The young teachers go into the auditorium to watch the play and I go back to the office to close down. A long list of unanswered emails is still in the Inbox and I decide to ignore the flashing light on the telephone telling me there are voicemail messages. I have a quick look at tomorrow’s programme and then log off.

8:15pm The trip back to Newcastle is shorter in the evenings. I remember I haven’t had supper but resist stopping at the fast food restaurants en route. I catch up on some phone calls with friends from the hands-free set in the car and somewhere around Ballynahinch, I start dreaming of a gin and tonic in front of the TV.

9:15pm Arrive back home and after a drink and some food, I head into the study and make the fatal mistake of turning on my computer.

11:15pm Go to bed, regretting I didn’t go earlier and start reading another script – I’ve got to make a decision on a play for the Naughton Studio before the end of the week and it’s proving difficult.

12:00 Lights out and I go to sleep with my head full of the letters of Abelard & Heloise and Howard Brenton’s wonderful play, Eternal Love




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